Foundations of the US Government II America , Jon Stewart
Do we have a true democracy in the United States?
How did the Founding Fathers design the system to preserve/prevent a democracy?
Along the way we will discuss the basic tenants of Democracy
How the Founding Fathers were able to merge the ideas of Democracy with Classical Republicanism
consider that nothing is as unequal as equality
What are the basic elements of a democratic form of gov ’ t?
Fundamental worth and dignity of the individual. All persons are entitled to life, liberty, and due process under the law
Equality: all persons are entitled to equal rights and treatment under the law
Majority Rule: The will of the majority is expressed through elections is fundamental to the American system
Fundamental Concepts of Democracy
Minority rights: The Constitution of the U.S. protects the rights of the few from oppression
Compromise: the structure of the US gov ’ t necessitates compromise by all sides
Individual freedom: All persons are born free, equal, and independent
Fundamental Concepts of Democracy
Pliny, a Roman philosopher, echoed Cicero (as he often does, the brown-noser...) about the limits of democracy.
Pliny adds: there is nothing as unequal as equality itself.
Meaning: though wisdom is not
shared by everyone; everyone has
the right to vote!
“ Democracy ” is not used in either Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution
For framers it meant “ mob rule ”
Madison (Federalist #10) direct democracy flawed b/c no security to property rights
Constitutional Democracy - limited power.
So How Did The Founding Fathers Engineer A Way To Preserve The Rights Of Man (especially the rights of the minority against the tyranny of the majority?)
Here is what the Founding Fathers thought about gov ’ t abuses of power....
Give all the power to the many, they will oppress the few. Give all the power to the few, they will oppress the many. Alexander Hamilton, 1787
There are two passions which have a powerful influence on the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice; the love of power and the love of money. Benjamin Franklin, 1787
From the nature of man, we may be sure that those who have power in their hands... will always, when they can...increase it. George Mason, 1787
Today we view republican and democratic gov ’ t as the same thing. The Founders, however, drew a sharp distinction between the two forms of gov ’ t
For the Founders: - Democracy meant a form of gov ’ t in which ultimate authority was based in the will of the majority (of course the majority of the people meant the largest classes of people and that meant poor people!) smartgirlpolitics.ning.com
For the Founders: - Democracy meant direct participation. The Founding Fathers were familiar with that since for decades local gov ’ t in colonies tended to be democratic in nature. - Yet based on their own history and experience, the Founders were concerned about democracy as a form of state or national gov ’ t.
For the Founders: - Republicanism meant promoting the public good, the res publicae - “ thing of the people. ” - Republicanism meant political authority is exercised through the community ’ s chosen representatives in gov ’ t thebluevinecollective.org
Founding Fathers shared Roman idea of citizens working to promote the common good. Of course that will only work if the citizens all share: - civic virtue (set aside personal interests to promote common good - classically that meant little protection of individual rights b/c it was all about common good) - moral education (G W as Cincinnatus as he gave up personal interest for common good - led the nation) - small, uniform communities (small communities mean you know each other- people shouldn ’ t be very different in their wealth, religions, or ways of life. Otherwise might develop into factions. To prevent this there should be one established religion)
The Founders encountered difficulties in attempting to apply those classical republican ideals to the new American nation. Republicanism differs from the natural rights philosophy in its account of human nature and individual rights... colonista.com
stress rights of individual to life, liberty, property Americans who came to the new land did so for opportunity - they seem to be more like natural rights people rather than civic virtue people. Such restless, ambitious, diverse people are ill-suited for the self-sacrifice of classical republicanism upcomics.com Natural Rights Philosophy Classical Republicanism stressed promoting common good about rights of individual
Two men will help resolve the conflict between democracy and classic republicanism: Baron de Montesquieu and James Madison will save the day - all 5 ’ of him colonista.com whitehouse.gov
He believes to avoid abuse of gov ’ t power then the gov ’ t should be divided among three branches… The Baron de Montesquieu
whitehouse.gov - because America could not be the small communities of an ancient Greek style democracy, America should have a republican form of gov ’ t - But the representatives should be elected by a large number of people rather than a small number or a specially favored group - such a gov ’ t is a democracy b/c it derives it ’ s power from the people as whole. - this equals a representative democracy James Madison - “ The Father of the Constitution ”
What is the difference between a democracy and a republic? What aspects of the gov ’ t of the US suggest it is a democracy? What aspects suggest it is a republic?